Today's reported show took place at a new venue for me called Shibuya BOXX. I have no idea how, after a year of indies and about thirty shows, I never wound up at Shibuya BOXX. Is it new? I have no idea. Anyways, the show was on a Friday at 4:30, which is an obvious issue. On a Friday, MelJay and I would still be in our respective prefectures at work. Well, classes haven't started yet, so MelJay and I both took a half day at work (cost me three whole hours of paid leave – the horror!) and left around lunch time to head to Tokyo for the show. I was able to bail at noon and catch a 12:45 train. I was at Shibuya's Hachiko statue by 3:30, where MelJay was waiting. Then we used the directions I printed out by some past indies-goer who knew a lot of landmarks and used that to find the elusive Shibuya BOXX. Turns out the venue's sitting in the same block area as C.C. Lemon Hall and Shibuya AX. Who knew.
Anyways, we arrived just as doors were opening (at 4:00), not that it mattered. There was only, like... twenty-five people there at first. MelJay and I took a spot all the way on the right side where we could keep an eye on everything and jump in if we needed to (but still be out of backpack and purse-crushing territory).
When the first band started setting up, however, a certain problem became apparent: the sound system was too loud. Now, it takes a lot for me to say that. I like my music loud. But this hurt. Bad. I was hoping, when the music actually started, it wouldn't be so awful. But it was. If the sound quality was a little better it wouldn't be a big deal, but... BOXX's sound system is kinda... meh. The inside kinda reminded me of Ikebukuro Black Hole, however. It felt like sitting in a big, black shoe box. The barrier was also oddly far from the stage and padded like it was for mental patients. I wonder if there have been, like... really bad accidents at BOXX in the past, lol.
Also, the band I was there to see – DIAURA – was listed first on the ticket, so they were the supposed headliner. I also assumed this because, while we were waiting for the show to start, they were playing music from DIAURA's new mini-album. I was excited to realize DIAURA sounded like Valluna... minus the aspects of Valluna's music I didn't care for. Very good sign!
Around 4:30, the first band took the stage. They were called Black x berry. Aaaaand I tried everything but I just couldn't find a picture of them. My pamphlets include a picture, but I don't have access to a scanner and I don't wanna be that person uploading personal photos onto the school computers, lol. Sorry. Don't worry, they're not that exciting to look at.
I'd say the band is rated N for N00b.
They were just kinda... okay, I guess. The problem was, they were trying to be sooooo enthusiastic cuz they're the n00b band and they need to get fans, but... the audience wasn't really taking the bait. The band had a saizen, but the saizen wasn't enthusiastic enough either. When the band tried to do stuff like gyaku-daibu, it just sorta... didn't work out. It's too bad cuz, musically, they weren't bad, and they definitely had some talent (as many n00b bands, surprisingly, do). But they were new and they were kinda... trying too hard to be rawk stars. I felt kind of embarrassed for them, so let's move on.
The next band up was ANOTHER DIMENSION. Picture:
This band is rated D for... D.
No, seriously, I thought Asagi came on stage for a moment there. If Nobro from VAJRA had a man-crush on Kyo, then this guy's got a raging man-crush on Asagi from D. He was dressed exactly like him, with long, black hair pulled over one eye, a side hat, a “mad hatter” kind of coat, and he even had the same make up. What's more, he was holding a conductor's stick to “conduct” the audience with, just like Asagi would do! I was horribly amused. They weren't really bad or anything. They had a sort of atmospheric rock thing going on, from what I could tell through the terrible static of the sound system and the shredding of my ear drums. The vocalist kept things interesting enough the way he “conducted” the crowd, and his band mates were pretty into it. Shout-out goes to their drummer, who was crazy and awesome. He's one of those drummers who drums like he just drank six Red Bulls and wants to break the whole set before the show's over. In fact, when the band was done, the drummer stayed on and did a sort of... solo? It was more like a drum set spazz-attack for a few minutes. By the time it was finally over, the drummer seemed all disoriented and stumbled out from behind the set like he'd been shot up with horse tranquilizers. He wound up tripping over something next to the drum set and nearly face-planted, then he stumbled dizzily across the stage while everyone cheered. Then he staggered offstage, at which point there was a crash from behind the curtain as the drummer most likely tripped over something again.
I should add that drummers tripping over something next to the drum set was about to become a trend for the night.
The next band up... well, the ticket says their name is St. Rose, but... something's strange. According to the pamphlet, their name is Scarlet Valse. Any site that mentions the event has the band listed as St. Rose, but I've got two pamphlets from these guys and they both say Scarlet Valse on them. I can see why they're being called St. Rose, however. When the curtain parted, the entire drum set and all the mic-stands were wrapped in fake rose vines. I did a little research, and I'm not positive, but I think Scarlet Valse is actually a session band, and St. Rose is... the real band? What? I read the description in Japanese several times and it still didn't make sense to me. I couldn't find a picture of St. Rose, and the band itself was only advertising Scarlet Valse, so... here's a picture of Scarlet Valse, who don't look anything like St. Rose but... consists of the same members...?
I've been calling them the Desert Band because they came on stage looking like desert travelers or something. They were all wrapped up in white cloth, some of them even around their faces. And they... were just... what. First of all, they had a Token Female who was the creepiest thing ever. He was smiling in this weird, forced way, and always strummed his guitar like he was flicking fairy dust all over the place. The member with the cloth wrapped around his face seemed to have mummified himself everywhere but his chest, because it was nip-slip for pretty much the entire performance. A nice tattoo was poking through the fabric on his right arm, however. And then... there was the vocalist...
What I don't even.
If ever a psychotic human being has been put on a Japanese indies stage, it's this guy. He came running onstage like a maniac with curly hair extensions and wild eyes. Their saizen was going totally insane, so the vocalist ran over to two of the girls, grabbed their hands, and started jumping up and down with them, his mouth hanging open like he was trying to catch flies. This is a grown man we're talking about here.
Aaaaand thus began one of the most absurd acts I've ever seen. I mean, what do I even say about them? The music... wasn't bad... I guess... The audience was pretty into them and their saizen was pretty wild. But the vocalist was a complete nutball. He hopped and danced around like the stage was made of hot sand, always with his eyes bugging out and his mouth hanging open. He also really enjoyed picking on MelJay and me, and constantly initiated crazy staring contests with us. At one point he bugged his eyes out at me and I stared back at him, smirking. After a minute, however, it just got creepy and uncomfortable, so I glanced away. When I looked back, however... he was still staring at me! So creepy! One of the more amusing things he did was, during gyaku-daibu, he backed up to the edge of the stage and sat himself down on the barrier so the girls could leap through the air and crash right into his back. And, of course, he did all this while giggling like a maniacal school girl. Aaaaand then there was the groping. The vocalist really liked to, um... touch himself down there... a lot. I think the creepiest was when he held his microphone up at his crotch and started rubbing it and grinning at me n' MelJay. Something is seriously wrong with this guy...
At the end of their performance, he and his band mates tossed real roses into the audience. And I believe their drummer tripped on something next to the drum set.
I think around this point I decided I couldn't handle the sound system anymore. During St. Rose (?), it felt like something in my right ear burst from the loudness. Not wanting to sacrifice years of my hearing, I pulled out my ear buds and stuck 'em in. I decided I'd rather look stupid and have headphones hanging off my face than lose anymore hearing.
Alright, so who's up next?!
Uuuum... maybe it was Rubik? Here's a (really out of date) picture:
Rubik is rated U for Unremarkable. I don't really remember anything, sorry! I know they weren't bad, cuz I would've had a sour memory of them if they sucked. I just don't really have any memory of them, to be honest... Pretty sure they also had a drummer who tripped over whatever mysterious object was trying to trip up all the drummers next to the drum set. By this point, they had a roadie lying in wait for the drummers to trip, and she rushed over and detangled him from whatever mess was going on over there.
Next up was ArtCube. Picture:
This band is rated B for Boring.
I dunno... everyone stood up for them, so I thought there might be potential. Their entire saizen was made up of gothic lolita-types, including two foreigners who appeared to be “official.” But, for some reason, the band was just boring. I'm not even sure why. The band seemed kinda bored, and their audience wasn't exactly the life of the party either. People who stood up seemed to have stood up because they'd heard of the band, and that was about it. I swear to god the bassist died on stage and continued to play as a zombie, that's how bleagh the whole thing seemed. I felt really antsy and wanted to sit down. The only interesting thing was that the guitarist had this weird instrument... it looked like an antenna, and he waved his fingers around it to produce weird, electrical feedback noises. I dunno what it was, though.
So... what was next? Well, the next band started with a rather disinterested looking drummer sitting behind the drum set ahead of everybody, so I figured he was some band's support drummer. As the intro music played, three members came on stage and received the best reaction from the audience we'd had all night. Everyone was up, and we had about seventy people by then. Several thoughts ran through my head at that point:
1. The vocalist is hot.
2. The screaming in the intro sounds familiar.
3. The guitarist also looks really familiar.
4. Actually, now that you mention it, the vocalist looks kinda familiar too...
I don't always herp, but when I do, I derp.
I believe I stared at the band for about a minute straight, watching them perform, before realizing, “hey douche bag, it's DIAURA you fucking idiot!” I nudged MelJay in the side to say, “hey, that's DIAURA” and she kinda looked at me like, “no shit, Sherlock.” And she's never even seen yo-ka before... So............. I pulled out my headphones.
I'm ashamed of myself. Shows you how long I've been out of the loop! My brains have scrambled!
Anyways, here's DIAURA:
This band is rated NC-17 for yo-ka. Because.
So yeah, basically, I'm an idiot and didn't recognize Kei or yo-ka, even though I've seen them both live about ten times. I was gaping at Kei like, “why do you look so familiar?!” In my defense, yo-ka changed his hair from shock-blond to black, so I think that threw me for a loop. And they were wearing crappy, generic, marching-band VK clothing. I'm not used to those two being poorly dressed. But I know it's because their band is in the process of getting new members, so they don't want to spend the money on real costumes until the lineup is established. Also, I thought they were going to headline! Between each band they were playing DIAURA's music, so I just assumed they'd headline! But we still had one band to go! Sooooo, yeah, pardon me for being confused, lol.
Anyways, DIAURA was the band I was really there to evaluate. How did they stack up? Especially in comparison to Valluna, who I saw about ten times. Uuuum... I've gotta say, I think I like where DIAURA's going better than Valluna. The thing with Valluna was that the band was kind of gimmicky. Yo-ka is obviously into the “hard-core” stuff, but Valluna was always trying to throw a cute angle into their music. I'd hear their songs and think, “this song is really good, but what's with this stupid part right here that doesn't fit at all?” But, so far, DIAURA's not like that. They're going for straight-up hard-core, which yo-ka seems happier with. Even Kei, who I always thought was an oddly mellow guitarist for Valluna (which made me even more surprised when he, of all the members, followed yo-ka to DIAURA), seemed happier and more into it than he ever was in Valluna. Oh, and they have a new member who plays bass! His name is Shoya. I wasn't sure what I thought of him just looking at pictures. He looked kinda cute and out of place. But Shoya is totally awesome. He was really hyper and super into it (and he was pretty adorable). I definitely like the new guy.
Anyways, no report involving yo-ka should ever be without a “stage antics” section, so let's get to that. Yo-ka was, as usual, up to his sadistic theatrics. One of my big concerns about DIAURA was that the label would force the band to be more mellow than Valluna and yo-ka would be forced to tame down his usual performances. Buuuuuuuuut that's definitely not the case. For the first couple songs, he was just singing and blah blah blah and I thought somewhere between the switch from Valluna to DIAURA, we'd lost the real yo-ka. But no, as the show got more intense, yo-ka stepped it up. Lots of glaring all spooky-style at audience members, lots of getting all up in peoples' faces to scare them. I definitely had a couple staring contests with yo-ka but, luckily, I stayed in the third row and wasn't close enough for him to do anything (next time I'm movin' up, though!). As usual, it was during gyaku-daibu that yo-ka's incredible ability to make magic out of any audience really showed. He was able to get full gyaku-daibu going, despite the rather unenthusiastic crowd we'd had so far. First, he riled everyone up by literally pointing at each member of the audience and snarling something at them (which took several minutes). No one escaped his glare. Then, as gyaku-daibu got more and more intense, he started reaching out and dragging people forward and forcing them into the saizen. One of my favorites of the night... yo-ka prowled along the edge of the stage with a bottle of water and, every time a girl jumped into the saizen, he took a big mouthful of water and sprayed it at her as she hit the saizen. I'd never seen him do that before, and I thought it was really funny. To me, the scariest thing he did all night was also during gyaku-daibu. One girl jumped into the saizen and, while she was in midair, yo-ka lashed out and caught her in a stranglehold around the neck! Then he held her in a headlock up in the air on top of the saizen girl. Luckily, yo-ka supported her shoulder enough that she didn't get strangled or seriously hurt or anything (yo-ka's crazy, but he's not stupid). Still, it looked pretty freaky from where I was standing!
Also, yo-ka totally took his shirt off, hehehe. I was headbanging, so I didn't see it happen, but MelJay started poking me repeatedly to get me to look, lol. Let's just say, if possible, yo-ka is even more physically impressive than he was a year ago. We all know what I think about yo-ka, so I'll just leave it at that. But seriously.
MelJay's convinced he's paying for a trainer. Hell, he probably is, lol.
Anyways, enough about DIAURA. I'll see them again soon, so I'll hold off until the next show. The bottom line is, I felt extremely positive about them by the end of the show. Kei is definitely more fun in DIAURA than in Valluna, Shoya seems really awesome, and yo-ka hasn't changed a bit. I'm going to buy their new mini-album and see how it stacks up but, so far, I really liked how it sounded.
One more band to go! The band that for some reason headlined was SWEET MADONNA. Picture:
This band is rated IP for Inappropriate Pants.
Uuuum... I dunno. They weren't really my cup of tea. They were kinda boring, and half the audience left after DIAURA, so it was just sorta meh. The vocalist was wearing... inappropriate pants. They were open about two inches on each side, all the way up to his belt, with laces criss-crossing it. Which meant he obviously wasn't wearing underwear. Which was... obvious. And disturbing. He just... didn't really have the body type for those pants...
The only really amusing thing was, during the MC, the band brought out bags full of popsicles. Why? Well, according to them, “cuz it's summer.” So yeah, they threw popsicles into the audience. At least fifteen of them. I didn't get one, but I kinda wanted the SWEET MADONNA fans to have them. It would be kinda mean of me to take one, lol. I'm not sure, but it looked like those really tasty blue popsicles they have in Japan. I think they're Ramune flavored?
Anyways, yeah, they just weren't that interesting, so MelJay and I ducked out before encore. On the way out, the freaky vocalist of St. Rose/Scarlet Valse was outside handing out more pamphlets. There was absolutely no escape, so MelJay and I awkwardly accepted them. Then, as we were walking away, the vocalist shouted, in English, "I LOVE YOU!!!" after us. All MelJay and I could do was giggle and run away.
Then I introduced MelJay to the wonderful, cheap, delicious, and awesome restaurant that is Saizeriya. If I ever make an actual “How to Indies” post, one of my main pieces of advice would be to find every Saizeriya in Tokyo. For 180 yen you can have endless drink bar to rehydrate after a show, and the food is super cheap and super tasty (only 400 yen for a pizza!)
Oh, and MelJay and I kinda went on an adventure the next day since our Saturday was free. We went to the Square-Enix Store and gaped at Sephiroth's corpse under the floor (and MelJay bought an adorable Moogle cell phone strap!). Then we went to the Pokemon Center, where I bought a Snivy stuffed animal! I'll take pictures later. I totally love Snivy. He (well, actually the one I have in my game is a she), is just so cute and smug! I know Snivy is supposed to be a “grass snake” Pokemon but... I think he's more of a “bitchy”-type Pokemon, lol. Sooooo cute. Oh, and we went to Sweets Paradise. I don't always eat cake, but when I do... diabeetus XP
Anyways, I will be back again this weekend. Yes, again. How much longer can I keep this up? Who know?! Who cares?! Let's just do it! MelJay and I are going to MelJay's first “super indies” show. We're going to see BORN! Other acts include -OZ-, Para:noir, HERO (yuck), and a few others that I've at least heard of. Should be interesting!